THIS POST IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION – PLEASE IGNORE SPELLING AND GRAMMER
On November 7, 2011 Eighteen Property Owners in the North Hollis Area received a surprise notice from the city. They were informed their property has been included in an $8.3 Million Assessment District to provide funding to underground the utilities along a section of Hollis St. from Powell Street, to Ocean avenue. A copy of the “notice” is provided below. The notice also included a schedule of payments for the next 25 years at 6% interest. In today’s market that is high cost financing.
It would seem these EIGHTEEN property owners were victims in an effort by City Staff and Wareham to force these owners to pay for something the Staff knows they would not support. the November 7 noruizxwNotice of this surprise assessment district was the beginning of a e mptoce was the beginning of a SEVEN .month process where they would have to sweat the potential impacts or this going forward. m ,shock of receiving a sudden notice like this cannot be overstated.
There are THREE Videos of two meetintgs. The item was frirst heard on Nov 15th. at tyhat thime hoowwdw
, you will bwe expwected to pasy like this cannot be opbveerastated.t suOnce a majority of owers was established, the City nmailed a notice to the other 18 prooperty opwners. The property owners were invfited to a City Ciouncil meetinig where the Council was going to vote to move forward with creating this assessment distirict. None of these property owners knew anything about this project.
However, at the Novwembwer15, 2011 the City Counxil voted 3-2 not to move forward. Council Members, Jennifeer West, Ruth Aekin and Ken Bukowski voted NO, with Kurt Brinkman and Nora Davis voting in favor. This was Bukowski’s last day on the City Council,
Below is the video from the November 15, 2011 Meetinig.
After the closed door majority of owners was established by Staff, the City mailed the above stated notice on November 7, 2011 to the remaining 18 owners. City Staff and Wareham worked on this project for over TWO YEARS, yet none of these owners were made aware of thi9s project. only given SEVEN DAYS advance notice to attend a meeting where the City Council would take the first official step to form the District.
The shock of receiving such a aurpriose notice, and subsequently discovering there is already a majority of owners on file asking for the assess,emt was an underhanded move to force these owners to paqy for this project. .The City Attorney was telling the 18 owners they had a right to protest the assessment, even though a silent majority was already established. The seven day notice also included a schedule of payments they would be forced to make over the next 25 years.
This was an $8.3 Million assessment to be paid over 25 years at 6% interest.. It would be hard to describe the shocking impact of receiving such a surprise notice, and the on-going threat of having to pay this assessment. Many of these owners have vacant space or tenants with financial difficulties. Even for the owners who can afford the assessment, the lack of respect and concern for the impacts of the project will never be forgotten.
Although, it was later sustained by a majority of the City Council. the Staff proceeded with this project without authority to include the three city parcels to create a majority of owners. Under State law a city cannot move forward with an assessment district without first having signed petitions from a majority of onwers in the district.
It should also be noted that Wareham would have received approximately $375,000 kickback, if the assessment district went forward. One of the affected property owners, noticed the utilities in front of Wareham’s new building were already underground. The question was, why are they included in the district. Apparently, when their last new building was approved, there was a condition added which said, if a utility district was ever established, they were get the full cost to underground their utilities reimbursed. And then, as a participant in the district, the cost of undergrounding their utilities would be shared by the other property owners.
It should be noted the real affected parties are the commercial businesses who are tenants. Most commercial leases automatically pass the cost of such assessments directly to the tenants. The EPOA identified 124 affected business in the area who did not know anything about this.
On December 6, 2011 the Council reconsidered the matter and once a new council member was seated, the council voted 3-2 to move forward with the creation of this district. At least 15 of the 18 other owners were outraged, and they asked for my help.
Accepting, what seemed to be a difficult task to overcome, I set up a special meeting of the 18 owners, and also invited the “one additional owner” HFH Ltd. owner to the meeting. The HFH representative and 15 of the 18 other owners attended the meeting. When HFH saw the impact on these owners, they withdrew their petition, and saved the day. Now, with less than a majority of owners in the district, it could not proceed.
This was a shocking experience for these property owners, and it caused the creation of the Emeryville Property Owners Association. We decided we wanted to make sure this could never happen to any property owner in the City.
However, the City and Wareham still did not give up. Subsequently on March 13, 2012 the city staff called a meeting of the North Hollis property owners, seeking to get any one of the 18 minority owners to change their mind, and keep the project alive. The impact of the assessment just didn’t matter.
The EPOA was now organized, and we sent notice to the 124 affected business owners. We had over FIFTY affected property and business owners at the March 13 meeting. No one in the room was in favor of the assessment district. This ended over 4 months of real concern, and a level of stress hard to imagine, the matter was put to rest for the moment.
Documents below include copies of official notices, transcripts from two city council meetings the two letters from the EPOA to affected parties.